CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Colorado theater shooter James Holmes will be sentenced to life in prison without parole after a jury failed to agree Friday on whether he should get the death penalty for his murderous attack on a packed movie premiere.
The nine women and three men said they could not reach a unanimous verdict on each of the murder counts. That automatically eliminates the death penalty for the failed neuroscientist, who blamed his calculated murders of 12 people on mental illness.
Prosecutors argued Holmes deserved to die because he methodically planned the 2012 assault at a midnight screening of a Batman movie, even blasting techno music through ear phones so he wouldn't hear his victims scream.
The verdict came as a surprise. The same jury rejected Holmes' insanity defense, finding him capable of understanding right from wrong when he carried out the attack. It also quickly determined the heinousness of Holmes' crimes outweighed his mental illness in a prior step that brought them closer to the death penalty.
The defense countered that his schizophrenia led to a psychotic break, and that powerful delusions drove him to carry out one of the nation's deadliest mass shootings. At least one juror agreed — a verdict of death must be unanimous.
Jurors deliberated for about six and a half hours over two days before deciding on Holmes' sentence.